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PostHeaderIcon Cake4Kids: Sweet Surprise for Needy Kids

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For needy families who are worried about finding food or housing, birthday celebrations are low on the priority list. Yet for kids who regularly do without—without new clothes, without a meal, without a stable home—the small gift of special attention and a sweet treat goes a long way towards recouping a little bit of normalcy and a treasured feeling of joy. An army of volunteer bakers devotes themselves to giving kids that special attention—Cake4Kids.

Libby Gruender founded Cake4kids in September 2010 after reading about an organization in the South that provided birthday cakes to needy kids. For one girl who received a cake, the deceptively small gift was overwhelming, and she burst into tears. “I’ve never had a birthday cake,” she cried to the volunteer who presented it to her.

Instantly, Libby knew she wanted to provide that service in her own community. She called on a group of friends, who called on other friends, and Cake4Kids was born. They recruited local agency partners to screen and identify needy kids, and opened for business across the South Bay.

The small initiative was a runaway success, and expanded rapidly. The group quickly found that it filled a role for kids in need of special attention in the midst of trauma and hardship, for volunteers who wanted to do something simple and tangible in the lives of those kids, and for avid bakers who had run out of baked good recipients—like Jeaninne Frank of Danville, who says she ‘needs’ to bake in order to relax. Her husband and kids could not keep up with her prolific baking output, so she signed on with C4K.

“There is only so much you can bake for local firefighters and police,” says Franke.

Today Cake4kids includes active organizers and volunteer bakers in the peninsula, South and North Bay areas. The process of vetting partner agencies is formal and includes verification of nonprofit status as well as disclosure of financials. Once accepted, partner agencies fill out detailed questionnaires for each cake recipient on a monthly basis, as birthdays come up—from age and gender, to favorite flavor, color, and suggested cake designs. The volunteer bakers deliver the cakes to the agency, and remain anonymous cake angels to the beneficiary.

Says Trish O’Dwyer, lead operations volunteer, “We want to protect the confidentiality of both the kids and the bakers, and let the kids enjoy the celebration with their case workers and families.”

Baking expertise is not a prerequisite for interested bakers, as C4K provides basic foolproof cake recipes as well as decorating classes. Driver’s license and insurance information is required from volunteers, as is mandatory attendance at an orientation session. Bakers cover their own costs.

“The most important aspect of a Cake4Kids cake is not that it be expertly decorated, but that the child’s name be spelled accurately and legibly, and that the cake be made with love,” says Board Member Julie Eades.

All ages of kids are served—from one to 21 years old. In 2013, three hundred volunteer home bakers baked and delivered 1,000 cakes in the South Bay alone. Today, Cake4Kids wants to expand into the East Bay area, particularly Contra Costa and Alameda counties, as well as San Mateo County. Volunteers are particularly needed to help recruit new child and family organizations, who can connect the massive cadre of bakers with a steady stream of cake recipients.

One new recipient agency in the East Bay, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), serves homeless children and families in shelter and housing programs in Alameda County.

“Homeless kids do a lot of waiting in line for institutional meals—whether at the shelter or school lunch program,” says BOSS Development Director Sonja Fitz. “Having a beautiful cake made just for them is unforgettably special.”

If you are an agency serving foster or at-risk youth and would like to learn more about receiving cake donations for your kids, contact Trish at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . To donate or volunteer, visit www.cake4kids.org. --SF

 

Sonja Fitz works as the development director for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency in Berkeley. She write's regularly for allnewsnoblues.com.

 

Last Updated (Sunday, 01 June 2014 04:59)

 

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